20 September 2011

Revisiting Gatsby

I feel like all I write about lately is my experience in my classroom. It is true - much of my life right now is dedicated to what goes on at school. I spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about and preparing for the hours I spend with my students. I love it. I remember being told that if you could get through the first three years of teaching you could do anything - and while that may be true, I've found it to be a complete joy.

Well, almost complete.

I find that - even more so than when I was in college - I spend more time reading for school than I do for myself. Case in point: I started reading Harry Potter again last spring with the intent of finishing before the last film came out in July. These wonderful books that I finished in under 24 hours each the first time through. . . yeah, I'm stuck in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Not that I haven't been reading. I read (or re-read) several books over the summer in preparation for teaching. I read The Sword in the Stone, Treasure Island, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Anthem, The Hobbit and others. The latest re-read comes in the form of The Great Gatsby.

When I was in high school, I took Early American Literature instead of Late American Literature with the sole intent of escaping Gatsby. I heard absolute horror stories about this book and put up with The Scarlet Letter instead (what was I thinking!?!) I think, though, that I'm glad I didn't read Gatsby until I got to college. I don't know that I would have appreciated the magnificence of Fitzgerald's language until later.

As it is I am absolutely devouring this book. C.S. Lewis said once that words phrased well sound like music, and he was right. Gatsby is symphony. A beautiful, chewy sort of symphony full of more description than a person would ever need, but not nearly as much as I want right now. I am loving this book.


Bill said...


I did read Gatsby in high school, and I absolutely hated it. Like, I don't remember finding anything redeeming about it at all. As such, I haven't read it since, and I haven't regretted it. Perhaps I should give it another chance, now that my tastes have matured a bit.

Nanakat said...

I read GATSBY in high school and found it actually quite bearable, compared to some of the other things they were throwing at us, like Frank Norris' THE OCTOPUS and other depressing "naturalism" and "realism."

I decided that the only American author in the past couple of centuries with a sense of humor was Mark Twain, and the rest of them were all much too down on life for me.

I particularly hated the year we focussed on American writers, because that meant we ignored Shakespeare.

But GATSBY was okay. It helped that the movie version with one of my favorite actors, Sam Waterston, came out not too long after I read it. (Oh, yeah, Robert Redford had the title role, I believe.)

Didn't try stuff like Ayn Rand until college, though, and gave up on ATLAS SHRUGGED about halfway through--just didn't care who John Galt was, sorry.

Never did read THE SCARLET LETTER.

Kami said...

I felt the same way about lots of books from high school. Teachers would say things like, "Oh, this is such a classic, this is so good ..." and we'd dissect the books and have these huge insightful discussions in class (mostly the teacher telling us what was cool or important), and I felt like I was a pretty stupid Honors Lit kid. I spent a lot of time thinking, "You know, I bet I'd appreciate this book a lot more when I'm older." I was right. Some books I didn't like so much in high school are a million times better and more interesting now, and honestly, I kind of wish they hadn't been forced on me before I was able to appreciate them. I hated the feeling that I knew I was missing out on something important. But, you know, I was a stupid kid. I bet those books did a lot for the other students that got it better than I did.